Pennsylvania Courts Launch Outreach Campaign to Help Stop Abuse
Pennsylvania courts have launched a “stop abuse” outreach campaign in English and Spanish to educate victims of abuse that protection orders are an option to help stop their abuse.
“Courts play an important role in helping to keep a victim, and the victim’s family, safe from future abuse through protective orders,” said Tom Darr, Court Administrator of Pennsylvania. “Protective orders are free and more importantly, the court order signed by a judge outlines rules for the defendant.”
Protection orders may tell the defendant he or she cannot have any contact with the victim – and may also prohibit other contact through texting, calling, emailing and social media. If the defendant violates the rules in the protection order, he or she may be arrested.
The goal of the outreach campaign is to help victims more easily navigate the process of filing protection orders. The campaign includes digital ads running on Facebook, Instagram and Google, pointing users to detailed step-by-step videos available in both English and Spanish on how to file protection orders. The outreach campaign is funded by the federal STOP Grant program (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors Violence Against Women) administered through the U.S Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.
Produced by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the videos prepare victims for what to expect when they file a protection order by offering a detailed description of each step involved in the filing process:
- Fill out a petition
- Review petition with a judge
- Judge grants/denies temporary order
- Attend final hearing to obtain final order
Court staff can help people who have trouble speaking, hearing or understanding English, and many bilingual forms are available.
Domestic violence is a crime that typically occurs within a family or an intimate relationship as a way for one person to control another and may include physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, choking, shoving, not allowing someone to leave home or using objects like knives and guns to cause injury. It also includes harming someone emotionally by threats, name-calling and putdowns.
Many victims of abuse either are not aware that protection orders exist as an option to help end their abuse, or they are intimidated by the process. By educating the public, the courts hope that victims of abuse gain the knowledge and confidence to seek the help they need.